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Is the AL East the Worst Place to Pitch?

Apropos of nothing, a quick rumination on the differences in run scoring environments around professional baseball:

It is taken for granted that pitchers don't especially want to be in the AL East. The list of failures in this division is much longer than the list of successes. The offenses of all five teams have been usually a cause for consternation among the professional ball-throwers. And of course we should not forget the cozy dimensions of Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards as well as the imposing batter-friendly features of Fenway Park and the artificial turfs of the Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field.

It is no surprise to learn that the average runs scored of the non-Oriole AL East teams at home or in Camden Yards in 2011 was 5.09 per game, 0.63 runs higher than the average American League team. The run scoring environment in this division is not to be underestimated. That's why we will often discount pitchers' chances when moving into the division, as you and I no doubt are doing with, say, new Orioles Dana Eveland and Jason Hammel.

Consider though, that among the explicitly stated reasons for the Oriole brass to acquire these two pitchers were their success in other high run scoring environments. Eveland spent most of 2011 in Pitching Hell - that is, Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the average runs per game was 7.35. Hammel spent 2011 in the major league's closest approximation of Albuquerque: Coors Field, where 5.35 runs per game were scored.

What's interesting is that both Coors Field and Albuquerque were stronger run scoring environments relative to their leagues than the AL East. was. The AL East teams (at home or in Baltimore) averaged 0.63 more than all context-neutral AL teams, but in Albuquerque the average is 1.79 runs per game higher than the Pacific Coast League average, and in Colorado it is 1.22 runs higher than the NL average.

Additionally, both Eveland (5.40 ERA in Albuquerque) and Hammel (5.20 ERA in Colorado) pitched better than average in those terrible pitching environments. None of this means quality seasons or success against New York and Boston are coming for them in Baltimore. There are many differences in the kind of pitcher that succeeds for the Albuquerque Isotopes compared to the kind of pitcher with the same relative success pitching for the Baltimore Orioles. This is simply food for thought for when we automatically assume that all pitching numbers must get worst simply for coming to the big, bad AL East.